Cheapened Things
by MD1016

Mulder was screaming. That was all Scully could think as she was ripped out of a nameless dream. His shrieking had her on her feet before her eyes were even open. She stumbled over to the connecting door, her arms leading the way, fighting the way her head was spinning after standing too quickly. His desperate cries exploded in volume as she yanked the door open; the sound of terror in his voice chilled her through to the bone. But that was nothing compared to the sight of him flailing violently under the confines of the twisted hotel comforter.

"Jesus, Mulder."

His fists were caught at his sides, battling in vain with the thick Material that kept him pinned against the mattress. Not even his powerful legs could lift the lower half of his body, without the covers twisting further around his calves. But Mulder kept fighting, and the veins in his neck surged and strained against the confinement of his taut skin.


The tears on his cheeks were hot against her hands as she ran them soothingly against his flushed face. "Mulder," she tried to coo in the wake of his howling, "Mulder wake up." He fought her touch, trying to squirm away from her as she pried the blanket from under his shoulders.

"Scully! Scully!"

"I'm here, Mulder." Her voice wavered only slightly as one of his hands broke free and clamped on to her upper arm with the strength of a python. His grip was merciless. Quelling the initial lump of panic that surged up her throat, Scully tightened her stomach and focused on rousing her partner. "Wake up now, Mulder. I'm here."

"Scully!" His mouth was distorted in a snarling frown. The ragged edges of his throat hissed as he inhaled. "Scu-u-ully!"

With a grunt of effort, she pulled his shoulders up from the mattress and gave him a firm shake. "Mulder, wake up!" Please. The nightmare that held him refused to break, though his cries began to turn into deep, gut-wrenching sobs. Her own sleep-muddled brain wasn't allowing her to think clearly, and all she could center on was waking Mulder from his terror.

"I'm here. Mulder, listen to me. I'm here. You're having a nightmare. You need to wake up now-"

"Scully -"

"I'm here."

Her gulped breath caught in a swallow, as his eyes opened,
unfocused and confused. Scully couldn't help the soft smile that formed across her face as his gaze slowly landed on her. The tension in his shoulders ebbed away, slumping him forward against her in a sloppy embrace. His warm body pressed heavily against hers, and she welcomed it, wrapping her arms tightly around his middle. He was free from the terror. Mission accomplished.

In the safety that accompanies the darkness, Scully felt Mulder sigh Against her, wrapped around her like a wet towel. And the sensation of his rubbery arms curving tightly against her back left a niggle of guilt in the back of her mind. It was rare that she had the opportunity to hold him; it felt odd. Faintly sexual. Definitely not something she was used to. Her left hand circled almost dreamily at the base of his neck.

"You were gone."

"I'm not gone, Mulder. I'm here." And wearing nothing but a tee-
shirt, she added to herself, suddenly self-conscious. A tee-shirt and panties. The pajamas that she normally wore had been right there in the suitcase, sitting modestly next to the shampoo and blow dryer. Why had she opted for the tee-shirt instead?

"No." She heard the catch in his throat and felt his ribs swell around a large swallow of air. "You died. You were gone. I was alone."

Her heart turned over inside her chest. "Oh, Mulder." Cancer dream. Death dream. She'd had enough of her own to know how terrifying they could be. Her arms tightened around him and she scooted a little closer to him on the mattress.

Against the curve of her neck, she felt a hot tear fall and run down her shoulder. And then another. His scratchy five o'clock shadow prickled against the soft flesh of her neck, just before the wet sensation encircled her ear lobe. Heat and pleasure. Her heart rate doubled. Jesus. Mulder's mouth was suckling her ear.


He whispered almost inaudibly: "I want to kiss you."

Deep between her legs an ache opened up and began to unfold, rushing through her body in every direction. She sighed against the raspy whisper he left on her cheek. Then he began the trail of slow, wet kisses up and over her eyes and down the bridge of her nose. Her body was screaming for more. Her mind, the stronger of the two, won out. Get this back to where it should be, she told herself. Take control again. He's just responding to the shock. That's all it is. Shock from the dream. Hesitantly, she held his face steady, and pulled her own away. "Tell me about your nightmare."

His eyes, half shuttered, followed the sleepy movement of her lips. "No."

He looked as exhausted as she felt, with his hair pressing flat against The left side of his head and his face lined with drying tears. She wiped her palm across his jaw to erase one.

The hand that rested against the thin cotton on her back crawled around her side and found her right breast. Mulder watched her face as she felt his fingers tightening, and then slowly releasing. Then, gently pressing and kneading. His hand set up a rhythm that was so exquisite that she had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep the moans of pleasure away. What the hell was he doing? Seducing her? Impossible. He was too casual, too calm. His face remained neutral and curious as if he was studying her reaction. Unnerved, Scully tried to keep her face neutral. But her fatigue kept her honest.

A satisfied glint lifted his lips as his eyes slipped from her face down to his hand. Her breast. His right hand lifted and cupped her other side.

She felt her inner muscles contract involuntarily. Things were completely out of control. Weren't they? He was feeling her up, wasn't he? Mulder's look of fascination left her confused. "What are you doing, Mulder?"

Her own hands had slid down his neck and found a rapid pulse. His eyes widened. "You're so . . . perfect . . .." His tongue flicked over his bottom lip. "I didn't know . . ."

"Know what, Mulder?"

"That you are so . . ." His gaze raised again, and he found her eyes without letting her go. Something new had registered in the depths of his pupils. "Scully?"


"Does it bother you that I'm . . . touching you?"

Good question. "Uh -" She licked her own lips, and his thumb found her raised nipple. Don't close the eyes, she reminded herself, trying Desperately to remember why she couldn't just give into the sensations. Obviously he was trying to arouse her. Wasn't he? Or was this still connected to the dream he'd had? Touching her to see if she was alive. And, God, she was alive. The blood couldn't be forced through her veins any faster. And he wanted to know if it bothered her. Jesus.

"You shouldn't," she managed without much of a shake in her voice.

His hands ceased their caress. She wanted to cry. "I shouldn't touch you?" He seemed almost perplexed.

"No. Not like this."

Then, his hands left her, and the cold air rushed in, tightening the peaks of her nipples to points of pain. Scully retreated as well, noting that he didn't seem in the least embarrassed about his unusual behavior. Just me, she thought. Why did she feel so awkward when he seemed fine with what had just happened? He had touched her, after all. Not the other way around.
"Mulder? Do you think you'll be able to sleep now?"

He gave a casual shrug as his eyes slid back down to her chest. Closing her eyes in an effort to keep herself from smirking at his blatant ogling, Scully pushed herself up from the bed and headed back to her own room.

"Did I offend you?" The softness in his voice didn't cover the undertone of concern.

"No," she mumbled, suddenly aware that the length of her tee shirt wasn't long enough to completely cover her panties from the back. Glancing back, Scully noted how different Mulder seemed. It wasn't like him to be so calm and completely focused at the same time. Or, rather, it was, just not with her as the object of his attention. That was the difference. Mulder never looked at her. And normally, even when he looked at her, he didn't really see her. Not like he was at that moment. When his face was more relaxed than she'd ever seen it. He was so . . . still.

"Mulder?" She paused for a moment to touch the door jamb, needing the solid support it had to offer. "Why did you touch me?"

Mulder shrugged, and for a moment, she was sure he was going to say something else. His eyes didn't look away. He didn't attempt to hide from her.

She nodded, not understanding what had just happened at all, and turned to enter her room.



"You really do have beautiful breasts."

A moment passed before she could think of an appropriate response. Was there one? A chill ran up her spine. Her nipples tightened. Again. "Uh. . . thanks." Scully turned to go back to her room, but something stopped her. Turning back to see her partner with a lopsided grin on his face, she questioned, "Are you okay, Mulder?"

"Actually," he said, flopping his body back down on the mattress, "I feel a little drunk."

"You're coming off the adrenaline rush. We had a big day. Try to sleep"
Mulder nodded and curled onto his side. Sleep. Sounded like heaven. She shut the door between them, and turned to her own empty bed while her mind played back the images that had just transpired. Maybe he was still asleep. Maybe he was in a waking dream. Hell, maybe she was.

She flopped down on the bed and stared at the ceiling, trying to ignore The phantom hands on her body. Over her breasts. She closed her eyes. Damn him. Now she was never going to get back to sleep. She pulled the night bag from the floor on the far side of the bed and pulled out the bottle of sleeping pills.

"I should have given him a couple of these," she remarked to herself. Damn him and his nightmares for waking her up in the middle of the night. And damn his roaming hands for keeping her up.

Scully woke with a start. Something was definitely out of place. She blinked, and then instantly knew what it was. Under her head was Mulder's chest; his warmed skin pinked where her cheek had been. He squinted down at her. "You're awake."

"Mulder! What the hell are you doing in my bed?"

The smirk that twisted his lips clutched mercilessly at her throat. "This is my bed, Scully."

Immediately her head shot up. The room was still dark, with the curtains drawn nearly closed, but what she could see told her enough. Mulder's opened suitcase sat on the small bench against the far wall; hers was, of course, missing. As was her laptop and the files she'd been working on before bed. In their place was a bag of salted sunflower seeds and a crumpled hotel towel. "Oh." This was bad. "How did I . . ." Or maybe not so bad. Scully couldn't remember. Everything seemed so far away. Well, everything except Mulder.

Shrugging, he yawned. "You stumbled in a few hours before sun up. I figured you just had a nightmare."

"Nightmare?" Her disheveled hair fell into her eyes as she pushed herself up from his chest with her still-asleep arms. He combed it back behind her ears for her.

"Was it?"

She froze as his hands continued from her ears down to her neck and shoulders. His face was fixed with a concentrated fascination, watching as his finger tips ran delicately over her skin. "A nightmare? Uh . . . maybe." The sleepy clouds in her brain were making it hard to think.

A moment passed before Mulder responded. His eyes never wavered from the skin his fingers were touching. "A lot of that is going around these days." There was some concern in his tone. "I asked if you were okay, but you didn't say anything."

Scully glanced down at the rumpled tee-shirt that was hanging from her frame. It rested easily against his belly. "I think I took a sleeping pill." Why hadn't she put on the damn pajamas? And on second thought, why hadn't he? Mulder didn't usually sleep in his boxers. Did he?

"You're tense."

His eyes made it back to hers and her chest contracted, refusing to inhale again. Opening her mouth, Scully was able to squeak out a meek: "Am I?"

"Turn around."

Turn around? "Why?" As she shifted, Scully's stomach twisted. She closed her eyes and tried not to notice that her left leg was lying snugly between the two of his.

"You okay, Scully?"

"Mulder," she breathed, "If someone were to walk in here, this would look very bad."

"Why? We haven't done anything."

True. And yet Scully was sure that the tableau of her and her partner in bed together, half naked, while she was half lying on him would look suspicious - at the very least. Christ! She was practically straddling his thigh. Were her panties really wet, or was she just imagining it? Oh GOD! Could he tell?

And then his fingers slowly began kneading the flesh just behind her neck, and she lost her train of thought. "It's okay, Scully. Turn around."

She did. His legs V-ed and she pulled herself on to her knees between them. With steady arms, he gently pulled her back against him until her legs slipped out from under her and she fell back rigidly against his chest. He found her neck again, swept her hair aside, and began to apply sweet pressures in small, assured strokes. Warmth tingled through her at an alarming rate, even though he was only touching her shoulders and clavicles.

"Relax, Scully. You know you can always tell me to stop." The monotoned smirk she could hear in his voice made her shiver. He knew. How could he not have known? "This is supposed to help relax you." As he spoke, the little puffs of air that found their way to the sensitive skin behind her ear made her even more light headed.

She closed her eyes. The shoulder massage was incredible. His thumbs worked in small, rhythmic circles along the tense muscles. It was all she could do to keep from moaning.

"I don't think this is working, Scully." His thumbs ran up the back of her neck and into her hair. He found the knot at the base of her skull. "The veins in your neck are going to pop, if you don't relax."

Relax? How did he expect her to relax when she was between his legs and his hands were . . .. Her mind did a double take. Unless . . . he really was giving her a back massage . . . and he really did, honestly, want her to relax. Scully sighed. What had she been thinking? Of course Mulder wanted her to loosen up. Things had been strained between them lately; long hours and frustrating cases. Near-death escapes always took their toll, and they'd both had their share recently.

Scully exhaled.

"That's right. Breathe into it."

His palms cradled her head; and then, as if he held the most fragile piece of glass in the world, he turned it first to the left and then the right. She wasn't fragile. She was positive that he understood that. She had proven her strength over and over again, in a hundred thousand different ways over the years. And she'd never let him forget it, either. But for that one moment, while they were alone, she would be as fragile as he needed her to be.

The pads of his fingers skimmed down her neck and found her clavicles again, and the circular pressures restarted. But only for a minute or two. When he stopped, she felt his index finger run the length of her left collar bone.

What was he thinking? About Samantha? About the little girl who used to be his sister, and the skeleton of that little girl a year ago that could have so easily been her? Except for the lack of a crack in her left collarbone.

His lips smacked faintly as they opened. "Scully -"

No. She didn't want him to dwell in the past. Not at that moment. Come back, Mulder. Could he hear her thoughts? Mulder, I want you here. "Don't talk."

His mouth closed again; she knew without having to turn and look. His fingers started up again, but there was a distance. Scully was glad she wasn't facing him -- she didn't want him to see the pain registering on her brow. Come back, Mulder. I'm right here.

After a swallow, she found her voice. "Lower."

"Lower?" There was a hesitancy in his voice that she couldn't place.

"Yes. Lower."

His hands slipped down, as requested, but not down along her spine as she had anticipated. Instead, his fingers dipped forward and cupped the weight of her breasts; kneading them slowly, just as he'd done the night before. Scully bolted upright in surprise. But his ministrations didn't stop, and he didn't say a word. And, for some reason she couldn't name, neither did she. Gradually, as if easing into too-hot water, she settled back down, leaning back against his bare stomach; feeling the heat from his body through the thin tee-shirt she was wearing. A tee-shirt, which she watched with stupefaction, slowly rode up into his fondling hands, leaving her midriff bare and exposed. Again, she did nothing; simply laying there and allowing her partner to touch her while she stared at her navel.

You're not thinking about Samantha now, are you, Mulder?

Scully smiled. Because it felt so incredibly good. And it was so difficult to do anything else.

And then, his right hand slid lower. To her belly.

His fingers smoothed over the soft flesh, like he'd never touched anything as delicate before. Her skin puckered into goose flesh as his index Finger rounded her small navel. Lazily, it crept even lower, to the thin elastic trim of her panties. Back and forth, he traced along the top, waiting, she guessed, for her protest. A protest, she told herself, that she needed to give. But his left hand was still working her breast, and he was warm below her, and the sensations were all-

Or at least, she thought they were, until his right hand dipped even lower and his fingers combed through the thick hair they encountered. His fingers curved around her and squeezed gently; and, as she gulped in a gasp, one of them bent and entered her. The sensory overload hit her hard. Her hips bucked up to the ceiling in an involuntary thrust, and her own nails dug into his cradling thighs. "Oh, Mulder," she managed to breathe, "what are . . . you doing . . . to me?"

The exhilaration of him moving within her sent wave after wave of shocking pleasure through her. Without meaning to, her whole body lifted itself up, stretching out above Mulder's torso. The pressure from his hand left her gasping for her next shallow breath.

"Ahhhhhh, Mulder."

Then his lips were against her ear. "Let it happen."

She whimpered as his fingers slipped out of her and rubbed lavishly over the nearby knotted nub.

"Relax, I've got you. You're safe." His breath was hot and wet against her neck. "Let it happen."

"Oh, God . . ."

Her body leapt again, as the pressure inside her began to soar. Her head fell back in the cradle of his shoulder. Incredible . . . amazing, her body was crying, unbelievable, perfection, more . . . more . . . more . . ..

Her hands left the firm thighs she was lying on and found his long arm that wound its way down past her chest, past her stomach, past her hips. She held on to him as he circled his fingers around and then over her aching, pebbled flesh.


She could feel the climax coming; her body tensing, getting ready to explode. Her lungs pumped furiously, leaving her head swimming in a collage of sensations. She was rocking against him, or maybe he was rocking beneath her -- it didn't matter. All that mattered was that he had snaked back inside of her and she thought she was going to weep with the exquisite pleasure of it.

Scully lifted her head from his shoulder and her cheek scraped against his. Her legs pressed against his, opening wider. More, she thought. Her thighs slid to the outside of his, and his knees came up between them; forcing them even farther apart. She looked down again. His hand was pumping beneath the soaked layer of cotton. This isn't happening, her mind tried to tell her. It couldn't be happening . . .
please, please . . .

More . . .

And, as if he could read her thoughts, Mulder brushed his thumb against her clitoris once again.

She screamed.

Mulder, oh GOD! Mulder, Mulder, Mulder . . . Tumbling over and into the glittering-black of oblivion, Scully floated mindlessly. Mulder Mulder Mulder Mulder . . . With an ease she had long since forgotten, she settled heavily into a perfect nothingness. Nothing existed except the immediate physical. And that included Mulder. Always, Mulder.

A swelling in her throat nearly became painful as she registered for the first time his belly below her, rising and falling with a steady cadence. He was lying still for her, waiting for her to recover; asking nothing for himself even though she could feel his clothed erection pressing against the inside of her left thigh. Any other man would have been pounding into her before she'd known what was happening. But not Mulder. Instead, his slicked fingers lay quietly inside her, patient and motionless.

"Mulder." Her body, half forgotten, twitched both inside and out. She curled her dangling feet under his calves.

Her breathing slowed. Scully felt him withdraw. But his hands didn't Leave her body. The one that had been at her breast, smoothed reassuringly against her hairline; the other lay protectively across her middle. He held her until she finally moved, turning to straddle the man below her.

The flat of her hands soothed over his bare chest, and she found herself just as amazed at the feel of him as he'd seemed with her. Mulder was solid and smooth. His thin patches of dark hair were unconscionably soft to her finger tips. She pressed her palm above his heart and felt it pounding up against her. Much like the rigid member that was straining against her lower back.

Her head bent down and she kissed next to her palm, and to her delight, he moaned her name. She did it again.

Silently, his hands traveled up her thighs and waist, gliding past her shoulders and then up her bare neck to capture her head before she could kiss him a third time. Her smile faded as she saw his eyes. And the tear running down the left side of his face. It was not the face of a new lover. There was pain in his gaze.

"Scully. Stop."

A moment of blinking left only one question in her mind. "Why?"

The hesitation in his response caused her insides to flip over. "Scully," he began, "This was for you. Not me. It was about you-"

"Mulder," she tried to lighten his mood, shifting herself forward to kiss his mouth. "Don't tell me you weren't there. I could feel-"


Scully froze. Her eyes rounded. "You're . . . you're serious. Mulder?"

When he didn't answer, she flew from him and pulled her legs up protectively to her chest. Bastard! She'd allowed him to . . . to . . . Jesus, she'd allowed herself to come in his arms. Bastard! He stopped her with a whisper of her name. "I thought you understood. It was just about you - about giving you something you needed-"

Fists clenched, Scully bit out: "You think I needed a pity fuck!" She got little satisfaction from the shock that registered on his face.

The back of her throat burned when his face contorted in pain, and he croaked, "Is that what you think it was?"

"Wasn't it!" His head shook and lowered. He couldn't even look at her anymore. Great. Now if she could just shoot them both and call it a day-

"No." His head shook with a new-found certainty, "Never pity. Not with you, Scully."

"Then I don't get it, Mulder. Why did you stop me?"

"Because I can't confuse our relationship with something else. It would be so easy for me to fall for you, if I allowed myself to. I can't do that, Scully. For the same reason you can't."

Can't? He should have thought of that before he penetrated her. She shifted and crossed her arms, trying to ignore the way her panties were sticking to her in the most uncomfortable way. "So, basically what you're saying is that this is a one time thing, and I'm supposed to forget that you had your hands all over -"

"It doesn't have to be. If we can compartmentalize."

Compartmentalize? His fingers were still wet. She wanted desperately to punch him in the mouth. "So, we're friends."

"Well, yes." His confusion was more than she could take; it melted away the anger and hurt. She was no longer talking to Mulder, the FBI Agent. Before her, siting cross-legged on the bed -- raging erection tenting his boxers -- was Mulder, the hopelessly dense.

"And fuck-buddies?"

He grimaced and shook his head. "Jesus, Scully."

"What, Mulder? Not PC enough?"

He twisted his face up even further. "It didn't feel as crass as you're making it sound."

"Oh, really? What did it feel like for you? Friendly?"

"I don't understand why you're acting this way."

"What do you expect? A thank you?"

He ventured a blinking glance at her and she caught him on his double take. His eyebrows lifted. "You're . . . angry?" He acted like it was the revelation of a life time.

"Angry? Why should I be angry? You were just doing me a favor, right?
Poor Scully. Can't catch a live one, herself. She needs a little hand - no pun intended. I'm sure that if you thought Skinner was in need of a good lay, you'd gladly let him into your bed and jerk him off until he couldn't see straight. I mean, hey! What are friends for?"

Mulder's face darkened around the image she'd planted in his head. "We're not that close."

She dismissed him with a shrug. "Fine. Then one of your other friends. We're all the same, right?"

There was a brief pause while Mulder swallowed. "You're my only friend, Scully." He looked helplessly around the dim room, searching for anything that might help. Scully turned away from him and pulled her knees up further. "I don't know how to explain this, so that you'll understand."

"Just tell me this, Mulder:" she pinned him over her left shoulder. " Do you want to make love to me?"


He looked down to avoid her raised brows and seemed to realize his lap standing at attention for the first time. It was difficult to keep her eyes from rolling. "Be honest, Mulder."

"Yes." He dug the heel of his hands into his eyes, "No! Why does this have to be about love?" She felt his hand on her again; his finger drew a small circle on her lower back. "Why can't you just be happy with what I can give you? Accept what I can offer?"

Oh, God. The tattoo. Scully's breath caught in her throat. What had she done? What had she allowed to happen? An ache filled her belly like a dozen frozen marbles. She was going to vomit.

Without another breath, Scully bolted into the bathroom, pressed the knob lock and pressed her back against the door. Heat flushed her cheeks under the steady stream of rolling tears. The ache of grief that swelled in her belly worked its way up. She wanted so badly to heave the pain out of her body; to empty it out and have it separate. The release would be carnal. Maybe even vaguely exhilarating. And then she would be free.

But even that was denied her. With a gag and a cough, it became clear That her body wanted her to suffer. Her stomach refused to grant a release. Trying to force it only succeeded in another pathetic choke.

Leaning back on her heels Scully took a moment to catch her breath before she slid down to crouch on the floor, hitting the light switch on her way.

Darkness swallowed her whole.

Scully closed her eyes.

She could hear Mulder's voice half-heartedly asking if she was okay. She ignored him, and crawled across the tiles to the cold porcelain of the bath tub. It soothed the burn in her cheek.

"Scully? Are you okay?"

No, I'm not. I'm not okay. I'm not okay, Mulder. Don't you know that? Can't you tell?

"Scully? Answer me, Scully."

With her arms out straight in front of her, Scully found the plastic knobs and turned on the water. The rubber stopper hanging from a long chain slipped naturally into place. Hot water began to pool. She slipped off her tee-shirt and tossed it away.

The door rattled from Mulder's forceful knocking. "Scully! Why are the lights off? Scully? Is everything all right?"

She slipped her panties over her hips and stepped out of them.

"Scully, open the door. Scully, God damn it! Answer me!"

The water that burned around her foot and ankle was just shy of Intolerably hot. Good. She needed the water hot. For some reason Scully couldn't find the energy to wrap her mind around, she suddenly felt dirty. Filthy.


"I'll break the door down if I have to, Scully!"

Slowly, she eased herself into the water and found the wrapped hospitality soap in its cradle. She unwrapped it.

"Scully!" The door shook "Scully!"

The soap was slimy and soft in her fingers.

"Scully! Please." His roar broke. "Please."

The muffled thud against the door startled Scully out of her dazed shock.
Mulder had fallen against the door. She could hear him breathing, heavy and wet. "Scully," he pleaded. "Please. Say something."

"Mulder?" The soap slipped from her hand and she crawled from the heat of the bath.

He exhaled on her name.

On her hands and knees she slid across the freezing floor and pressed herself against the thin wood door. "Mulder?"

"Scully -" he nearly stammered as he said her name, "Scully, I'm sorry."

She pulled her knees up to her chest and allowed the door to hold her weight, imagining him on the other side doing the same. "I know, Mulder." A moment of breathing passed. Her flesh raised in goose pimples. "Scully, open the door."

A shiver ran down her spine. "No."

"Do you want me to leave?" He sounded close to tears.

"No." Her heart thudded against her thighs as she clutched them tighter. "Don't leave."

He sighed and shifted against the hollow wood. For a minute nothing more happened. The thin stream of light that seeped in under her legs twisted with his gently breathing shadow. Scully smiled, not even knowing why. Or maybe she did. Maybe him sitting on the floor outside the bath room, waiting for her while she sat curled up on the floor in the dark was enough. Maybe she could be happy with what he was giving her.

"Please, Scully, open the door."

There was no way she was going to do anything of the kind. The door was her only protection from him; against the outside world. She'd let her armor slip away too easily, and she wasn't sure how she was going to get it back. But she knew that she had to have it -- it was all she had left.

"I need to know that you're all right."

She sighed. "I'm fine, Mulder."

"No, you're not. I've seen you pull out a man's liver without blinking an eye and eat fried chicken while looking at autopsy photos. You have an iron stomach."


"I heard you throw up, Scully. Please. Don't keep me out here."

"Mulder," she whimpered, "I'm naked."

"Open the door."

Her hand went to the knob, and she pulled herself up. I am not fragile, she reminded herself. I am not glass. Scully opened the door.

Outside, her partner held up a blanket just high enough to block his view of everything save her face. His eyes were awash with a mixture of messages: relief, trust, regret, compassion. Scully walked into his waiting arms and he wrapped her up. She tried to smile. The way he studied her face, though, made it hard. She could feel the tears pooling again. No. No more crying. Fix this. Fix it now.

With a moment for a breath, she lowered her eyes and stared at his chest with a much strength as she could muster. "Mulder, whatever you can offer, I will accept."

With a quivering chin, he stepped back from her and faced away. There was a tremble in his whisper that threatened tears. "Scu-u-ully." His shoulders slumped.

"I accept your partnership."

He pleaded, "Scully please."

"I accept your friendship."

He begged, "Please."

But Scully couldn't stop her mouth. "I accept your raw passion for the truth -"

With a violent spin, Mulder faced her, still clutching his arms to his body. "Stop!" His face was red and taut from strain; his shoulders trembled. "Just stop!"

He stood there for a small eternity, with a ragged, shallow breath,
trembling and staring and waiting for the world to come to an end. And in a very real sense, Scully knew that it had.

"I told you," he began, his voice scratchy under his tense attempt at control. "I explained to you, right at the beginning -"

"That nothing else matters." She finished for him with more calm than she felt. "I know."

There didn't seem to be anything left to say. Scully allowed their silence to go on for another minute while they stood there, facing each other; neither with the strength to look up. So, she mused to herself, this was how it was going to end. Funny. She'd always thought there would be a rain of gunfire and the call of an ambulance. Never half-
naked in a hotel room.

Somehow reality cheapened things.

Scully padded past him and pushed the connecting room door open all of the way. The air that hit her was cool and thick. It reminded her of a morgue.

The suitcase she'd always had sat patiently on the dresser. Her pajamas were folded and laying neatly on top of it. She pushed them aside and pulled out the black tee that matched her beige suit and a bra. Beige. She hated beige. The blanket dropped around her ankles and she kicked it away.

She turned towards the closet and nearly screamed when two hands grabbed her by the hips and pulled her back a step. The shirt was forgotten once she saw, over her shoulder, Mulder on his knees, staring at her ass. And then kissing her.

His tongue ran the diameter of the red ring that marred the smooth creamy flesh on her rump. The sensation set her nerves on fire and she had to brace herself against the dresser with locked arms. "Mulder, what are . . .you doing?"

No answer came. Wet lips left nibbled bites and his hands smoothed forward over her belly. In her ears, Scully could hear the pounding of her heart. "You can't do this, Mulder . . . Stop."

He flipped her around; and, staring up at her, he cupped her bottom and pressed his nose deeply into the apex between her legs. The smell of her filled him. Only then did he close his eyes and smooth his cheek over her flat tummy. "I can't . . ." His arms wound around her lower back. "Scully, I can't."

She combed her fingers soothingly through his hair. "It's okay, Mulder."

"No, it's not." Another kiss, next to her navel. "It's not okay." A kiss above her navel. "I can't . . ." A kiss farther up. "Fall in love with you." His lips closed over her right nipple. He suckled lightly and red stars burst under her eyelids. The air in her chest didn't seem to want to move. "I can't . . ." His tongue circled and then sucked again. "Love you."

There was no floor; Scully was floating. She was conscious that her fingers were tracing his scalp, but she wasn't in control. The words, "I know," escaped her lips and she heard them the same time he did -- if he heard them at all. Her body hummed. Her mind shut off completely.

His hands returned to her rear and he stood, taking her with him. She parted her thighs and they circled his hips like it was the most natural thing in the world. His mouth was on her neck, moving upward towards her ear. His back was hard under her hands, and it rippled with effort as he lowered her on to the bed. And then himself on top of her.

Propped up on his elbow, he studied her hair line and brows while Scully slowly rocked her hips below him. He touched her cheek. "I can't believe this is going to happen."

In one swift movement, Scully lifted her head and claimed his mouth. His lips were like soft satin ribbons smoothing over her own. She licked the bottom one and then pulled it into her mouth. He tasted incredible. He felt incredible. She needed more.

Her tongue plunged inside his mouth. A groan escaped his throat, and he shifted above her. Her hands found his head again, and refused to allow their mouths to break. She held him forcibly and deepened the kiss. A whimper of response seemed to be all that Mulder could manage. Her tongue found his and ran alongside it. A moan.

Then, his hands whipped down to her ass and lifted her just enough for his erection to inched its way inside her. Scully's moan urged him to slide in farther. The intensity of the kiss ebbed and for a few minutes they simply breathed against each other, lips parted and grazing; hands quiet. The weight of him within her was a sensation Scully had never experienced before. It was as if her belly and chest -- all of her -- was opening to him.

I accept whatever you can offer. Strange words to hear running through her head while they were making love. But he gently withdrew and then slid back in and she forgot about everything that wasn't between her legs. He pulled out again. And pushed in.

His lips returned to her mouth, and then made their way down her neck. The rhythm he was setting was maddeningly slow. And the ache that blossomed as he pulled out was able to magnify ten fold by the time he filled her again. She didn't want to rush him, but if he didn't get things moving, she was going to scream in frustration. Was he trying to make her crazy? Was that his point?

His mouth made it to the cleft between her breasts, and as Mulder withdrew, he lifted himself from her and slipped out completely. Scully was on fire. "What the hell are you doing?" He shook his head and moved his mouth, but didn't say a word. His eyes were full of her chest. "Mulder? What's wrong?"

"You're so . . . perfect."

Ah. Mulder's a breast man. Scully slipped a finger under his chin and Lifted his face to hers. There, in his eyes, behind the water and the fear, was a naked sort of love that made her heart bleed. He lowered himself back down to her, kissed her with more passion than she'd ever seen him with, and he pushed back inside her.

His new pace was hot and feral. His hands were everywhere, on her face, her breasts, her thighs. Her legs were forced from his hips and pressed up and apart. God, he was so deep. And deep and deep. She was overwhelmed with sensation and lost the rhythm she had kept with him. She relaxed beneath him and opened herself so wide she thought she might spilt apart, and let him make love to her. She sighed.

"Scully?" His hips slowed, but didn't stop. "Dana?"

Her lips curled. "Come inside me." She felt sheepish for having said it, until the grin swept across his face. His features lightened over the course of a second. Her spirit soared.

Mulder leaned back down to kiss her again and she felt him momentarily waver. "Ahh. Scully . . ."

She kissed him lightly, as she whispered, "I know. Let it happen." He whimpered through her next kiss. "It's okay, Mulder. I've got you." Her fingers rounded his narrow bottom and squeezed him into her. His body went rigid in her arms and he bucked hard against his climax. She could feel him coming inside and out; hear him screaming her name. And God's. And love.

The spasms subsided slowly. Mulder sank on to her with the weight of a spent man. "I accept all of you, Mulder." She brushed the damp hair from his forehead, and looked down to see him cradled between her breasts, staring as his absent finger fondled her nipple. "Even the part that doesn't want to love me."

Mulder sighed. His hand slipped up behind her head and he lengthened his back to meet her eyes. He kissed her nose and rubbed his own against it. "But . . . I do." He kissed the small tear that slipped from the corner of her left eye. "Love you."

Pulling back slightly to gauge her reaction, Mulder smoothed a hand over her shoulder and down her arm. With all of the love she had for the man above her, Scully looked into his eyes and pulled his head down to her.

And she kissed him again.

The End.

Acknowledgements: I need to thank Madeleine and Karen for their comments and support. And a special thanks to Dianora for the criticism and editing.